Metro HS parents say no to Maspeth students on campus
by Lisa A. Fraser
Feb 15, 2011 | 14565 views | 0 0 comments | 108 108 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The public hearing to discuss the incubation of Maspeth High School on the Metropolitan High School and the Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School (MELS) campus in Forest Hills didn’t finish without a fight from parents.

The plan involves students at a new Maspeth High School temporarily sharing the space at 91-30 Metropolitan Avenue for one year, being co-located with both schools until the Maspeth facility on 57th Avenue is completed in September 2012.

But the idea of sharing the auditorium, gymnasium, bathrooms and cafeteria didn’t sit well with parents who already have to share space, Likewise, another school concerns parents because they worry it could mean that entrance would be denied to community residents looking to apply to Metropolitan High School and MELS.

“There is no guarantee that the high school currently under construction will be completed by September 2012,” said Kathryn Thome of the District 28 Community Education Council.

Quoting a DOE statement, she said if the Maspeth High School building was not ready by 2012, then any proposal to extend the proposal or to move the school into another building would result in a new educational impact statement.

“In addition, there is no guarantee that the number of Maspeth students will be limited to 225 suggested student enrollment listed by the current educational impact statement,” she added.

Parents and teachers expressed concerns about the effect the merging of the schools would have on the children. Some argued that the differing school cultures would clash. Others contented that the incubation would not allow Maspeth High School students to find their own school identity. And quite a few parents were up in arms because regardless of a fight, it was “a done deal.”

Debra Zampelliis opposed and skeptical.

“Many of us believe this incubation is a done deal and if the parents of Maspeth community really knew what was going on, you wouldn’t want your children placed in this school,” she said. She urged all four schools to come together to make it work.

One prospective parent of MELS who teaches at Metropolitan High School said that by adding the extra school the DOE is not allowing schools to grow in their own way.

The Metro schools are new schools and haven’t been developed fully yet because they are still growing and phasing in grades each year. Metro High School is set to go up to grade twelve, but it currently only serves grade nine. The MELS school goes from grade six to twelve, but only currently serves grade six.

The DOE is using this capacity to place Maspeth High School on the site. According to the DOE, in 2010-2011, the Metropolitan High School has the capacity to serve 1,911 students and the building is projected to have enrolled 664 students, yielding a utilization rate of 35 percent capacity. The DOE notes that because of this, the building is “underutilized” and has extra space to accommodate more students.

“I think that we should have had this meeting when they were trying to integrate another school when that idea was born months ago,” Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley said. “I’m not surprised because the DOE does things last minute.”

Crowley said that she is not opposed to incubating the high school, although she has concerns.

Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi, whose district includes both school districts, said he does not accept the fact that it’s a done deal. “We have overcrowded schools and we do have space here, but there is District 24 who could benefit for one year if it is done properly,” he said.

Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz, Crowley and Hevesi recently sent a letter to the DOE requesting that they get confirmation in writing that Maspeth High School will only be housed at the Metro campus for one year.

Connie Partinico, PTA president at P.S. 58 School of Heroes in Maspeth, feels that the incubation should happen, although she understands where Metro parents are coming from.

“We need these seats desperately,” she said. “Our children need a place to go.”

At a Community Board 5 meeting held the same night, Demytro Fedkowskyi, a member of the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP), sought support from CB 5 for the Maspeth High School to be housed at the Metropolitan High School.

“This is an opportunity for people that live in this community to have an optimum learning experience and I would hope that we support this motion,” he said.

All of the comments made at the hearing will be included in the analysis of public comments to be published and provided to the PEP the evening before the panel votes. The panel votes on Tuesday, March 1, at 6 p.m. at Brooklyn Technical High School.

The DOE is asking parents to email or call (212) 374-7621 with concerns before the panel votes.

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